Friday, April 7, 2017

I Was a Stranger, Day 38: Rabi’a Keeble

You might have noticed a theme in my Lenten posts...not only do I want to give a voice to those on the margins, but I am also a big fan of interfaith movements and disparate beliefs coming together to unite on issues.

That's why I was excited to learn about Rabi'a Keeble, who has founded Qal’bu Maryam, a women's mosque, where everyone is welcome: new converts, reverts, born Muslims of all backgrounds (Shia, Sunni, Sufi, Nation of Islam, Ahmadi, Bohri, Ismaili, etc.), immigrants, black, white, brown, and all genders. Women sit in front, give the sermon, and say the prayers; genders are not divided; everyone is welcome; and everyone prays together.

As stated on the mosque website,
"Qal'bu Maryam, or Maryam's Heart, is named in honor of Mary, mother of Jesus (Isa), Peace and Blessings to them, and is a fitting name for a Mosque starting in a church which holds dear, and recognizes the sistership between us and our Christian and Jewish allies."
Of course it's in Berkeley! After being housed for a while in a United Church of Christ church, the mosque is now hosted at the Starr King School of the Ministry, a multi-religious seminary where Keeble received her master’s degree in religious leadership and social justice.

I love this message on the mosque's "Worship" page:
You Are Respected Here
At Qal’bu Maryam we believe that worship is based on what issues from the heart, more so than the mouth. We will adhere to Islamic norms and conduct for prayer. However, sticking with a social justice model, we will not give preferential treatment to men in seating, teaching, or in any other way. All engagement will flow from individual desire to be part of a community and to learn and contribute. We will lift up our Islamic matriarchs, and teach about their contributions to Islam, as well as contemporary Muslim women who are scholars and leaders in the world. We will also teach women those skills to  conduct Jumu'ah prayer wherever they are and whenever it's needed. 
The Huffington Post reports that although women’s mosques are in the minority, they’re not unprecedented. “Women’s mosques exist in at least a dozen countries around the world, including China, Syria, India, Egypt, Palestine, and even ultra-conservative countries like Yemen, Women’s Mosque of America founder M. Hasna Maznavi pointed out in a 2015 HuffPost blog. There’s a long history of women serving as imams in China, where the oldest surviving women’s mosque dates back to 1820.

Keeble especially hopes to give a voice to Muslim women of color, including a broad spectrum of racial and ethnic backgrounds. “Women need to be empowered to do what they’re called to do,” Keeble said. “If your calling is to be an imam, come try it out. Come study, and no one is going to tell you that because you’re female you can’t do it.”

Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace to be your mosque, and peace be to all that you have. Peace Salaam Shalom.

Read more of my "I Was a Stranger" entries here.

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